Linux Mint

Linux Mint

Linux Mint 18 Sarah Cinnamon edition

Linux Mint 18 Sarah MATE edition
Developer Clement Lefebvre, Jamie Boo Birse, Kendall Weaver, and community[1]
OS family Unix-like
Working state Current
Source model Open source
Initial release 27 August 2006 (2006-08-27)
Latest release 18 / 30 June 2016 (2016-06-30)[2]
Available in Multilingual[3]
Update method APT (+ mintUpdate, Synaptic)
Package manager dpkg
Platforms IA-32, x86-64
Kernel type Monolithic (Linux)
Userland GNU
Default user interface 1.0: KDE 3
2.0-11: GNOME 2 (KDE / Xfce / Fluxbox / LXDE for some versions)
12: GNOME 3 with MGSE
13-: Cinnamon / MATE / KDE 4 / Xfce[4]
License Mainly GPL and other free software licenses, minor additions of proprietary software
Official website

Linux Mint is a community-driven Linux distribution based on Debian and Ubuntu that strives to be a "modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use."[5] Linux Mint provides full out-of-the-box multimedia support by including some proprietary software and comes bundled with a variety of free and open-source applications;[6][7] however, with the release of v18 "Sarah" some previously included proprietary software such as multimedia codecs was no longer included by default. Its motto is "from freedom came elegance."

The project was conceived by Clement Lefebvre and is being actively developed by the Linux Mint Team and community.[8]


Linux Mint started in 2006 with a beta release of Linux Mint 1.0, code-named "Ada",[9] based on Kubuntu. Following its release, Linux Mint 2.0 "Barbara" was the first version to use Ubuntu as its codebase. Linux Mint had few users from these early versions until the release of Linux Mint 3.0, "Cassandra."[10][11]

Linux Mint 2.0 was based on Ubuntu 6.10,[12] using its package repositories and using it as a codebase. From there, Linux Mint followed its own codebase, building each release from its previous one, but continued to use the package repositories from the latest Ubuntu release. This resulted in making the base between the two systems almost identical, guaranteeing full compatibility between the two distributions rather than having Mint become a fork.

In 2008, Linux Mint adopted the same release cycle as Ubuntu and dropped its minor version number before releasing version 5 "Elyssa." The same year, in an effort to increase the compatibility between the two systems, Linux Mint decided to abandon its code-base and changed the way it built its releases. Starting with Linux Mint 6 "Felicia," each release was now completely based on the latest Ubuntu release, built directly from it, and timed for approximately one month after the corresponding Ubuntu release, usually in May or November.

In 2010, Linux Mint released Linux Mint Debian Edition. Unlike the other Ubuntu-based editions, LMDE was originally a rolling release based directly on Debian and was not tied to Ubuntu packages or its release schedule.[11] It was announced on May 27, 2015 that the Linux Mint team would no longer support the original rolling release version of LMDE after January 1, 2016.[13] LMDE 2 "Betsy," the current release of LMDE, is a long term support release based on Debian Jessie.[14] When LMDE 2 was released it was announced that all LMDE users would be automatically upgraded to new versions of MintTools software and new Desktop Environments before they were released into the main edition of Linux Mint.[15]

On 20 February 2016, the Linux Mint website was breached by unknown hackers, who briefly replaced download links for a version of Linux Mint with a modified version that contained malware. The hackers also breached the database of the website's user forum.[16][17] After the attack Linux Mint was severely criticized as being a distribution that, unlike many others at the time, "just worked" and became popular with non-technical users, but at the expense of security, with some security updates to the underlying Ubuntu or Debian blacklisted from running due to compatibility issues.[18]


Every version of Linux Mint is given a version number and, until the 18.x series, was code-named with a feminine first name ending in "a" and beginning with a letter of the alphabet that increases with every iteration.[11] The 18.x series broke from the pattern with version 18 having the name "Sarah".[19]

Initially, there were two Linux Mint releases per year. Following the release of Linux Mint 5 in 2008, every fourth release was labeled a long-term support (LTS) version, indicating that it was supported (with updates) for longer than traditional releases. Versions 5 and 9 had three years of support, and all LTS versions following received five years of support.

On May 31, 2014, with the release of Linux Mint 17,[20] the Linux Mint team adopted a new release strategy. Starting with the release of Mint 17, all future versions were planned to use a LTS version of Ubuntu as a base, until 2016.[21] Under this strategy, Mint 17.1 was released on November 29, 2014,[22] Mint 17.2 was released on June 30, 2015,[23] and Mint 17.3 was released on December 4, 2015.[24] The 17.x releases are intended to be an easy, optional upgrade.[25] All three versions included upgrades to the Cinnamon and MATE Desktop Environments and various Mint tools. In addition, Mint 17.2 and 17.3 included an upgrade to the LibreOffice suite.[26][27] The 18.x series will follow the pattern set by the 17.x series, by using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS as a base.[19]

Linux Mint does not communicate specific release dates as new versions are published "when ready," meaning that they can be released early when the distribution is ahead of schedule or late when critical bugs are found.[28] New releases are announced, with much other material, on the Linux Mint blog.[29]

Reviews of Linux Mint 18, Sarah, have been somewhat mixed, with several that were quite favorable[30][31][32][33] and others critical of several specific new problems, with multiple reviews complaining about the lack of multimedia/codec support by default.[34][35] Multimedia codecs, that were previously in the standard Mint distribution, were no longer included in Sarah, but could be loaded with a graphical application that one reviewer said should be obvious for new users.[31]


Linux Mint primarily uses free and open-source software, making exceptions for some proprietary software, such as plug-ins and codecs that provide Adobe Flash, MP3, and DVD playback.[36][37][38] Linux Mint's inclusion of proprietary software is unusual; many Linux distributions do not include proprietary software by default, as a common goal for some Linux distributions is to adhere to the model of free and open-source software.

Linux Mint comes with a wide range of software installed that includes LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, HexChat, Pidgin, Transmission, VLC media player and GIMP. Additional software that is not installed by default can be downloaded using the package manager. Linux Mint allows networking ports to be closed using its firewall, with customized port selection available. The default Linux Mint desktop environments, MATE and Cinnamon, support many languages.[39][40] Linux Mint can also run many programs designed for Microsoft Windows (such as Microsoft Office), using the Wine Windows compatibility layer software for Linux, or virtualization software, including VMware Workstation and VirtualBox, or KVM (Kernel based Virtual Machine, built into the Linux kernel) hypervisor using Virtual Machine Manager.

Linux Mint is available with a number of desktop environments to choose from, including the default Cinnamon desktop, MATE, KDE, and Xfce. Other desktop environments can be installed via APT, Synaptic, or via the custom Mint Software Manager.

Linux Mint actively develops software for its operating system. Most of the development is done in Python and the source code is available on GitHub.[41]

Software developed by Linux Mint

The new interface for mintUpdate, Linux Mint's Update tool.
The Linux Mint Software Manager allows users to view and install programs from the Software Portal directly from their desktop.


Linux Mint can be booted and run from a USB flash drive on any PC capable of booting from a USB drive, with the option of saving settings to the flash drive. A USB creator program is available to install an Ubuntu (not LMDE) Live Linux Mint on a USB drive.

The Windows installer "Mint4Win" allows Linux Mint to be installed from within Microsoft Windows, much like the Wubi installer for Ubuntu. The operating system could then be removed, as with other Windows software, using the Windows Control Panel. This method requires no partitioning of the hard drive. It is only useful for Windows users, and is not meant for permanent installations because it incurs a slight performance loss. This installer was included on the Live DVD until Linux Mint 16, but removed in the Linux Mint 16 "Petra" release because the size of the Live DVD images would have exceeded what the software could reliably handle.

Installation supports a Logical Volume Manager (LVM) with automatic partitioning only, and disk encryption since Linux Mint 15. UTF-8, the default character encoding, supports a variety of non-Roman scripts.


Linux Mint has multiple editions that are based upon Ubuntu, with various desktop environments available. Linux Mint also has an edition based upon Debian.

Ubuntu-based editions

As of Linux Mint 13, there are two main editions of Linux Mint developed by the core development team and using Ubuntu as a base. One includes Linux Mint's own Cinnamon as the desktop environment while the other uses MATE. Linux Mint also develops editions that feature the KDE and Xfce desktop environments by default, but these have secondary priority and are generally released somewhat later than the two main editions.[4]

Older releases, now obsolete, included editions that featured GNOME, LXDE, and Fluxbox desktop environments by default.

OEM version

Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon Edition's live CD boot menu.

The distribution provided an OEM version for manufacturers to use;[44][45] however, this version was discontinued with the release of v18 Sarah in order to reduce the amount of ISO images that needed to be maintained.[46] Manufacturers wanting to perform an OEM install now have the option to choose so in the live CD boot menu.

No Codecs version

The distribution provided a "No Codecs" version for magazines, companies, and distributors in the United States, Japan, and countries where the legislation allows patents to apply to software and distribution of restricted technologies may require the acquisition of 3rd party licenses;[11][47][48] however, this version was discontinued with release of v18 Sarah. Users now have the option whether or not to install multimedia codecs during the installation; additionally, multimedia codecs can also be installed via a link on the Mint Welcome Screen any time after the installation.

Debian-based edition

The Debian-based edition (LMDE) uses Debian as the package base rather than Ubuntu.[49] LMDE was originally based directly on Debian's Testing branch, but is designed to provide the same functionality and look and feel as the Ubuntu-based editions.[50] LMDE has its own package repositories.

LMDE claims certain advantages and disadvantages compared to "Mint Main" (i.e., the Ubuntu-based editions):[51]


The original LMDE (now often referred to as LMDE 1) had a semi-rolling release development model, which periodically introduced "Update Packs" (tested snapshots of Debian Testing).[50] Installing an Update Pack allowed one to keep LMDE 1 current, without having to reinstall the system every six months as with Mint Main. As of May 17, 2015, it has an upgrade path to LMDE 2.[53]


LMDE 2 'Betsy' running Cinnamon 2.8

LMDE 2 (aka Betsy) was released on 10 Apr 2015,[54] becoming the current version of LMDE. LMDE 2 is based on Debian Stable, but receives automatic updates to the latest versions of MintTools and the installed desktop environment before they are released into the Mint Main edition.[14][15] LMDE 2 is available with both the MATE and Cinnamon desktop environments.[50]

LMDE 2 remains based on sysvinit but with a "functional logind" from systemd.[55][56]


LMDE 3 is "very likely" to complete the switch to systemd from sysvinit.[55]


Individual users and companies using the operating system act as donors,[57] sponsors[58] and partners[59] of the distribution. Linux Mint relies on user feedback to make decisions and orient its development. The official blog often features discussions where users are asked to voice their opinion about the latest features or decisions implemented for upcoming releases. Ideas can be submitted, commented upon and rated by users via the Linux Mint Community Website.[60]

The community of Linux Mint users use Launchpad to participate in the translation of the operating system and in reporting bugs.[61]

Most extraneous development is done in Python and organized online using GitHub, making it easy for developers to provide patches, implement additional features, and also fork Linux Mint sub-projects (for example the Linux Mint menu was ported to Fedora). With each release, features are added that are developed by the community. In Linux Mint 9 for instance, the ability to edit menu items is a feature that was contributed by a Linux Mint user.[62]


TechRadar has praised Linux Mint for focusing on desktop users.[63]

In a 2012 online poll at Lifehacker, Linux Mint was voted the second best Linux distribution, after Ubuntu, with almost 16% of the votes.[64] In October 2012 (Issue 162), Linux Format named Linux Mint the best distro for 2012.[65] In July 2013 (Issue 128), Linux User & Developer gave Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" a score of 5/5, stating "We haven't found a single problem with the distro… we're more than satisfied with the smooth, user-friendly experience that Linux Mint 15, and Cinnamon 1.8, provides for it to be our main distro for at least another 6 months."[66]

DistroWatch provides information and statistics of Linux distributions. Since 2012, DistroWatch's Page Hit Ranking listed Linux Mint as the most viewed profile page there.[67][68][69][70] In December 2011, Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report showed 29 million hits on Wikimedia pages from computers running Ubuntu and 642,000 hits from those running Linux Mint. In June 2015, Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report shows 6.4 million hits for Linux Mint while the highest-placed Linux distribution, Ubuntu, had 1.2 billion hits.[71] ZDNet, Ars Technica and OStatic argued that these numbers, based on operating systems actually in use, represent the popularity of Ubuntu and Mint far more accurately than the DistroWatch rankings.[63][64][72][73][74][75]

The Free Software Foundation has criticized the Linux Mint operating system for using proprietary software such as Adobe Flash Player and proprietary codecs such as MP3 and MP4 "Mint does not have a policy against including nonfree software, it includes nonfree binary blobs in drivers packaged with the kernel, and it includes nonfree programs in its repositories. It even includes proprietary codecs."[76]

See also


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